In Britain, electricity surge creates tension in apartments – World Today



No more heating during the day, buying an electric blanket instead of turning on the radiator in your room, or even moving… The British are doing everything to limit their energy consumption and not sink financially while their bills rise.

In shared flats, common in big cities and especially in London given the astronomical rent levels, relationships are complicated by the different lifestyles and income levels that force roommates to compromise.

“This winter we expect seven million homes in the UK to find themselves in fuel poverty. This means they will no longer have enough money to keep their homes warm at an acceptable level,” explains Simon Francis, co-ordinator of End Fuel The Poverty Coalition.

“Everyone is going to feel this cost of living crisis, although the people with the lowest incomes are clearly suffering the most,” he adds. “This can definitely create tension between roommates.”

Customs shield

After being mild for much of the fall, temperatures suddenly dropped below zero in mid-December before rising slightly.

The radiators have run out and the painful winter bills are starting to arrive. The UK government has created a tariff shield of £2,500 for the average household per year, but at this level bills are still doubling over a year, while inflation is close to 11% in the country.

In shared flats, very few residents have escaped the current “discussion” (“the talk”) about how they intend to proceed with limiting bills.

For Joe, a 33-year-old teacher living in London, he and his five housemates have decided to turn off the heat in the bedrooms. They keep it in the living room, where two of them commute remotely. They now switch on an electric heater during the day instead of heating the whole room.

At journalist Julie’s, the roommates have decided not to heat up during the day, except when it’s really too cold, like just before Christmas.

Often no advantage for good students

Friction occurs, such as those who often bring their partner home but do not pay more, or those who have more income and are not very attentive.

“There were a few passive-aggressive messages from one of my flatmates asking us to remember to turn off the lights when we left,” says Joe.

“The problem for those living in shared housing is not just the differences in income” but the rent with taxes included, notes Simon Francis. This means that those who make a saving effort do not necessarily receive the benefits. He is also concerned that some owners do not pass on state aid.

In addition, some landlords sometimes raise rents suddenly to pass on the increase in energy charges… and tenants can no longer keep up, forced to move when finding an apartment in the post-lockdown property market has become very difficult.

Energy efficiency, a carefully studied criterion

When looking for a new home, energy efficiency is now a key criterion. Simon Knoplioch, a 29-year-old Frenchman who works in finance in London, recently moved and was looking for a modern building with his friends. “We asked to see the building’s energy certificate. The one we are in is a new building,” he explains.

“Before, we lived in an energy silo. At the moment, rents are so high” and competition for apartments particularly strong, which means “the owners have no interest in doing the work” of insulation, he laments.

According to the latest available government data, household energy consumption fell by 9.5% year-on-year in the third quarter in the UK, on ​​the heels of “temperatures higher than a year ago, although the “higher energy prices are likely to have led to a fall in demand’ .

Elsewhere in Europe, energy saving efforts are also going well. In the EU, gas consumption fell by 20% from August to November compared to the previous five years, according to Eurostat.

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